Episode 77: Building Blockchain Games with Samee Siddiqui

Ben Lakoff, CFA
July 4, 2022
Listen to this episode on your favorite platform!

Samee, CEO of the blockchain gaming firm FIVES, joins the show this week to give a developers perspective on the space.

We discuss where blockchain gaming could go, what currently is being done well in the space, and what it’s like building a game. Enjoy!

Listen on your Platform of choice:

Check out for all the listening options (Spotify, Apple, etc.)

Show Notes

0:00:00  Welcome and context    

0:00:17  What is your background?    

0:06:37  How early are we in blockchain gaming?    

0:08:35  What your ideal blockchain gaming environment?    

0:13:05  What valid arguments are there against blockchain gaming?    

0:16:45  Why Free to play games work better for you?    

0:19:00  Games that integrated blockchain well  

0:21:45  What can we learn from Axi Infinity?    

0:24:00  Regulatory hurdles with blockchain gaming    

0:26:01  What is Fives?    

0:28:20  What have you learned about game development through this  project?    

0:32:35  What is Fives go to market idea?    

0:35:40  What keeps you up at nights with a game like Fives?    

0:37:30  What blockchain will you deploy Fives on?    

0:42:01  Where can people find out more about you?

Show Links

Fives on Twitter


Connect with Samee on Discord

Helpful other Alt Asset Articles

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Ben: Welcome to the alt asset allocationpodcast, exploring alternative investment opportunities available to theeveryday investor. Here's your host Ben Lakoff .

Hello and welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast. Today'sinterview is with Samee of sevens. Episode 71 with Bored Elon and 73 with Ryan.Wyat I talk a lot about blockchain gaming. These guys come from a differentperspective. All of these perspectives are very, very important, but also verydifferent. So Sammy is a builder.

Actually in the trenches building blockchain games. So it's a,it's a very unique perspective. His game sevens could be really, really fun.And I think ultimately we'll continue to see a lot of experiments like this, ofintegrating blockchain and crypto and NFTs and all sorts of tokens integratedinto these games in more unique ways that actually enhance the playability andthe game.

of these games, as opposed to just being a play, to earn sortof situation that doesn't doesn't doesn't hold water that much. So blockchaingaming could really be the next big thing could be the defi summer all overagain for gaming, but. I think understanding it is very, very crucial what itis, what it isn't and where it could go.

Because I think ultimately we're still very far off on likewhen these things are integrated in ways that make sense, but we'll get thereeventually. That's for sure. If you have enjoyed this podcast, please sharewith a friend who you think it would get any value of it. And send me amessage. If you have any input, I'm always happy to hear from the, ourlisteners.

All right, Sammy on building blockchain games. Enjoy Sammi.Welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast. Excited to have you on today.Thanks for having me on. Yeah, looking forward and you're out in New York, sonext week I'll be there. But you know, we're a a United States apart right now.

[00:02:16] Samee: So I'm excited to talk and it brings uscloser

[00:02:18] Ben: together.

I know, right. It's, it's super convenient. And actually I havelike the, the setup for recording remotely, and then I tried to record inperson. It's kind of a disaster. You gotta get a whole different setup. So I, Iprefer the remote anyways. A little bit easier today. We're gonna. Quite a bitabout blockchain gaming, where it is, where it's going.

So I have done a few episodes on this already, so my audiencewill recognize the theme, but episode 71 with board Elon, a lot of what he'sdoing. And then 73 with Ryan Wyat. So CEO of polygon studios was also a goodone talking macro why blockchain gaming could be important, but Those guys comefrom a, a certain perspective and you are a builder in the space.

So also a very different perspective. So trying to get thisholistic approach of what is blockchain gaming, why is it important and whatinvestors need to know about it? So we'll get into all of that, but wanted tostart off little background who you are and how you got into what you're doing

[00:03:21] Samee: now. Yeah.

For. So I used to be an engineer in various Silicon valleystartups. Most recently I worked at the company called Flexport. Then in themiddle of COVID lot was a lot of things were changing the world. So I said, letme quit. Let me explore some company ideas. I actually was originally workingon this NFT marketplace idea for, for TikTok stars.

And then I, I meant went to LA. I met my co-founder. He wasactually making like a crypto game at the time. And we were both really biggamers. So we started playing a lot of like competitive games online, together.And around this time also was when like actually started kind of coming ontothe scene and, and that, that got us really excited, but we kind of noticedthere there's an interesting thing going on where we thought, okay, this gameis not that cool, but the con again, there's like a seat of this idea, which isreally interesting, which is like, The, the idea of rewarding players forplaying or, or having ownership into games you play is really cool.

And we obviously felt like, Hey, we're we basically both comefrom engineering backgrounds. We both know blockchain very well. All the gamingplayers are not gonna really understand this, how to, how to integrate it. Andso we we're basically combine the worlds of saying, Hey, let's make a game.That's actually fun.

And then combining the proper aspects or integrate cryptoproperly into a game, as opposed to doing it with. Potentially dubious results.

[00:04:40] Ben: Yeah. Well dubious results, but like wetalked about the this before we started, it's kind of like part of theprogression of getting this like perfect seamless integration of crypto and funand games and all of it.

But yeah, certainly right now it's not that fun. I mean, we'replaying people, paying people to game

[00:05:00] Samee: yeah, I think what's, I mean, Zoomingout. You just look at like crypto or tech cycles. Generally. This is exactlywhat happens, right? Like look at 2017 with ICOs. Most of those ended up beingbasically nothing went to zero, but then ICOs basically then brought in allthese people who did, who created like all these defi protocols.

And so that kind of caused the defi summer. My theory is. AIEwas basically like, kind of like the ICO moment for crypto gaming where now abunch of people copied that again, most of like the, the blockchain games rightnow, probably going to zero realistically. But there's a lot of teams I'm like,just like us with the, that said, oh, this is like a very interesting concept.

If we combine this in the right way, this is gonna do verywell. So, and then like this, the, the, the timing of this is very perfect,right? Like the bubble has kind of popped. Now. We are gonna have bay marketfor, I Don. X amount of time. And then my I'm actually very confident that thenext cycle is going to be a, a lot about blockchain gaming.

That's gonna be like, like they're gonna have the defi summerevent. It's gonna be like a blockchain gaming summer again in probably likeroughly one, one to one and a half years in my prediction. Yeah.

[00:06:06] Ben: I lean toward that prediction as well,which is why it's like. Early and try time to like really understand blockchaingaming, what it is, why it's important, where it's going potentially and how toplay it.

So we'll get into all of that, but so one to two years, I mean,I guess I've just start, like how early are we with blockchain gaming?

[00:06:28] Samee: That's an interesting question early,as in like Total adoption of all games or like how, how what's your metric for,for leans?

[00:06:35] Ben: Yeah. Until like, until crypto isintegrated in a way that makes sense and is fun.

And then potentially like more large scale people are playingit.

[00:06:49] Samee: So, I guess the way I would answer thisis maybe like, what, how, how close are we to like the first mainstreamconsumer game that does this? Well I think basically like between one and twoyears, I think it's there. There's gonna be one or a few games that basicallycome out in the next one to two years from now that basically all are going tospawn like this revolution in, in NFT gaming.

The reason I say that timeline is again, because I think.Making a game people are realizing is like, not trivial, basically. There'sthis thing going on where like all these blockchain people started learning,oh, like gaming is a really good use case for crypto. But then none of themreally know how to make games.

So they're basically trying to figure out how to make games andproducts. And then they GA there's this gaming people that right now still arelike not taking crypto two seriously or either that, or they're like stillhesitant. They don't want to integrate it. They're like, let's see how itplays. And so they know how to make games, but they don't really understand,like how is, how is blockchain gonna plug into it?

And so I basically just think that over the next year, there's,that information is going to diffuse and people are going to like, understandhow to do that. Prob my prediction is that the blockchain group, basically,there's a small percentage of them that can figure out how to make games andthey'll make games that, that properly integrate it.

And so that's that my estimation is about one to two yearsuntil it's like mainstream, like most games have it. You can need a few moreyears, but like the, the genie will be out of the bottle in, in about a year'stime. Yeah. In my opinion, And

[00:08:14] Ben: I, it's not really binary, right? Thatlike all games are blockchain games or zero games are blockchain games.

So we'll see like this bleeding of it. But I think it'simportant for people to understand that games take time. Good games, take time.And this launch an NFT build a game in the next three weeks. It's not gonna bea good one, but like, walk me through your vision of. What blockchain gaminglooks like, like down the path whenever it's like, well integrated, like whatcharacteristics does it have? Or like, just paint me a picture of like what anideal blockchain gaming environment looks like for gamers.

[00:08:56] Samee: Yeah. So I think before I even get intothat, there's a lot of like unlearning. I would say people need to do aroundthis. Because I think what happens in general with bleeding edge technology isthat you'll see one application of something.

So let's say like any, any cryptocurrency, right. And you'llsay, oh yeah, this has like insanely high gas fees. And so this could never beviable as, as X, Y, or Z use case. And the, what happens is then that, like,they kind of dismissed the entire category and they're like, okay, this islike, not real. I think the same thing has basically happened now in gaming.

There where the init, the first blockchain games were basicallyvery based around like Ponzi economics, where I guess just to quickly summarizewhat ha happens is that someone has to buy an asset to play the game and thenpeople play this game. And then typically by playing, they can produce someasset, but then allows them to like, create more of a thing that people want.

So it's just like the circular loop of like selling things tonew players. It's like textbook Ponzi scheme, basically. I think people nowrule have, when they hear the word blockchain gaming, or they hear play to earnany of these terms, they, their mental model goes to that. And so that is oneattempt at this.

I think like if we zoom out, what is that? The actual objectivewe want to achieve is not necessarily that again, that was one attempt. Notsaying I'm, I probably maybe would not have come up with something better atthe time, but like now we know what that is. It's more to me, like how can youjust reward people for playing a game?

That's it's as simple as that play to earn. I think all itmeans is that we're getting some sort of reward for playing. And so the longerterm vision of that I think is kind of expanding what it means to play or likegetting value for your time. So, one example is that there are skins and games.Why, why are these skins right now, centralized things.

Why can't I actually own the skin that I have and then kindatrade it on a secondary marketplace? Another thing is like, I, right now I canearn chests in like various mobile games or there's like tools for retentionwhere like, maybe I'll get coins. Why can't it be that these coins out like I,those coins give me the right to earn some amount of this game's profit every,every month, right?

This, this actually that. Has just never been possible before.Like, let's say a game wanted to do this. Let's say a game said we don't wannamake any profit. We want to redistribute all of our earnings to all of ourplayers. And it's an international game. This is just fundamentally was notpossible before.

And so this is kind of like the, again, this is the not sayingthis is the, the best model, but this is the most obvious thing of like, okay,what is like new capability that you have that would be cool and would make agame popular if a game redistributed all of its earnings via tokens to all ofits players.

That is an extremely valuable like basically user acquisitionand retention tool because now people are going to be like, oh, I'm an owner ofthis game. When it becomes more popular, I get rewarded. I'm being rewarded formy time. So that's kind of how I see it actually playing out in the long term.And there, it depends on the game how this is gonna look where I think, again,it's, it's important to realize that this is not blockchain is, is an economictool, so it's not like you can.

Random. It's not like a product feature. It's not like, oh,this, this makes the product. The fact that there's blockchain in it ratherit's you need to have a game. And then blockchain is kind of like a more efficientway to run a digital economy. And so the way all the digital economies runright now is in a centralized fashion, on a database, you can't like cash outyour money or anything.

And so the, the vision I think is that those things are gonnago from being centralized economies, to being global, global economies withthat have global liquidity that anyone can trade with people all over theworld. It doesn't actually, again, it doesn't change the gameplay. It kind ofjust makes the economy more efficient, makes the incentive alignment moreefficient.

So that's, that's kind of how I see it playing in not, notaffecting gameplay, affecting like incentives of, of the overall game. Yeah,

[00:12:50] Ben: I agree like especially about theblockchain not being the product, right. I mean, it's, it is one aspect thatkind of unlocks new ways of, interacting within the game and hopefullyenhancing that, that experience.

There's also this big cohort of gamers that have quite a bit ofbacklash on blockchain gaming, whether it's hyper financialization or what haveyou, but thinking about these gamers and the backlash, what, what validarguments do they have against integrating blockchain or NFTs within a gamingecosystem?

[00:13:29] Samee: I think again, this is coming fromconfusion of what is like again, casting blockchain gaming as like one, one,the first attempt at it, basically when, when gamers say, oh, we don't likeblockchain gaming. What they're meaning, what they really are trying to say iswe don't like games where you can like buy power where you can they're likeover financialized, they're just purely based on speculation.

They're not fun because those, everything I've just said. Whatblockchain gaming has been to this point. And so if you don't dive deeper, thenyes, it looks really dumb on the surface. I think in the long term, it's notgoing to, like, it's gonna be invisible to people. It's gonna be like, I playmy game.

If I like am X, X rank at the end of the season, I get money.If I like win five games in a row, or I log in seven days in a row, I get. It'svery hard for me to see why a gamer would not like these kind of like verybasic incentivization mechanisms that make the game loop better. I think ingeneral, like the, the, the best thing that I would say about like the criticsright now is that the main mistake of like, again, blockchain games with quotesas like, what has happened so far is that they've tried to reinvent too manythings.

They're not there. There's a lot of gaming best practices. We shouldnot be reinventing. So what are some examples like it's typically not goodpractice to be able to buy power in games and even, especially, it's also notgood to have like high barrier to entry games where it's even start playing thegame.

You have to spend hundreds of dollars. Actually. There's beenlike a huge. Take over in gaming in general of like free to play free to playbefore about pre 2010, by the way, was like kind of a laughable thing sincethen free to play is about like 80% of, of the, of the gaming market. It's likeridiculous, free to play is just clearly the best way to make games.

Anyone, in my opinion, anyone who's not, who's not doing a freeto play game now is like making a game incorrectly. And so that's like one verybasic one where I'm like, okay, I, I just completely disagree with the conceptof. Paying hundreds of dollars before you get into a game. I think anotherthing they've been doing wrong is like, again, the, the best model, the bestmodels typically are where you don't, where you can't buy power.

Typically the best, the best games that people love the mostare like you can play the game and then you, the way you pay money is like, oh,I wanna look cool. Or I wanna like express myself in some way. And so. Again, Ithink this is like where we can learn from what are the games that have donereally well.

And let's just copy those models, but we can again make theeconomy more efficient, but let's not try and reinvent like, oh, what, how, howshould we do user onboarding? How, like, how should, what type of asset shouldwe sell? I, I just think they're trying to reinvent too many things. Yeah, that

[00:16:16] Ben: makes sense.

And when you say which like best practice models, should wemimic you mean not within a blockchain, but just selling skins and like havingthis, even if it's on a centralized server or do you mean they've alreadyintegrated like blockchain based aspects into their game?

[00:16:35] Samee: I think what I mean is like thegeneral, like architecture of a game, so the, or the general business model ofa game.

And so The way like games used to work is that it's like youwould buy like an Xbox game. Right? I paid $60. I get the dis I have my gamenow. The way games work now, more like a vast majority of games work now islike the game is actually completely free to play. And then people will, a lotof people will play it.

You have a very wide funnel and then basically most peopledon't pay anything. And then you have like smaller percentage of players thatwill be willing to pay, pay for like time speedups or, or skins. These aretypically the two things we pay for, and this is actually just. It has turnedout to be a much better business model of how to approach games, because you'reable to, you have no barrier of entry.

Anyone can try your game. And then people who really, reallylike your game, they spend much more than they would have. They like, theyspend much more than $60 and it's because they really like it. And they alsodon't feel like they're not being like scammed for this or something. Right.They're like I'm choosing to spend money because I like this game.

And then the vast majority of people they're just like, I'mplaying for free. I'm fine. Looking like generic. That's fine. And. That's I,this is like in general, just a good business model for games. It's again, beenvery dominant. It's about 80% of games. Now. I think another thing game mostblockchain games have been doing is they've been building for browser.

Which is like a very, very weird decision. Browser games arelike completely dead even so console and and PC are actually combined are lessthan mobile. And so I think, again, anyone who's, who's not building mobileright now is like pretty questionable. You have to, I, unless you're like atriple a gaming studio, if I would say, like not building a mobile game is likenot a good strategy.


[00:18:21] Ben: Presumably that's because these arecrypto people that are making the jump into gaming and all the crypto, likewho's gonna move millions of dollars into defi protocols on their phone, notmany people. So it's optimized for web. So that's like the way that they thinkabout it. Are there any Are there any blockchain game, like games that haveintegrated blockchain aspects now that are doing it well.

And if so, like what aspects are they doing really well?

[00:18:52] Samee: It's also okay to

[00:18:53] Ben: say not that many

[00:18:57] Samee: I, yeah, it's hard to, for me to sayone that's good right now, I would say one of the. Better ones I've seen isalluvium. I think that they have, they're like doing this interesting thingwhere you basically like buy land and then that then they have like a mobilegame.

And then in the mobile game, you basically earn tokens fromyour land and you use that in the PC game. That's like kind of interestingmodel. Cause it's kind of like they're making like a companion experience whereyou're like, okay, well passively, like I, it's kind of like a clash of it'sbasically their, they have.

Pokemon plus clash of plans. So it's like we have this clash ofplans game, you generate tokens. And then in the tokens you use it in our likePokemon S game. So that's like kind of interesting model. Overall I would saylike, no. And the reason is because I think people are approaching itcompletely wrong.

I think that they're, they're approaching it first from theangle of, we have these like tokens or we have like an economy where, where wewant to design, let's like add a game to it. I think again, the model is likethe economy doesn't have to be that complex. Just use what exists for gamesright now.

Right? Like the most here, the most here's the most populargaming business model. I'll give the secret away. You make a free to play game.You make it competitive, you make it skill based and then you sell skins. Thatis the most popular business model game, all the, the highest earning games.All right. Now do that.

So wait, what if we just did. And then instead, instead of likethe skins being centralized, you make the skins NFTs, you let peoples tradethem secondary markets, and then you like rewarded players for playing withsome percent, right? Maybe like you say, okay, 10% of things you, you give backto like the top, top, like 500 players or you reward people on, on somecadence.

This is like a very basic model. We are doing something similarto that. But I think just approaching it from that angle of. Here's how gameswork, how can we use crypto to make that more efficient, as opposed to here'show our economy works? How can we add a game onto it? Is the, is the correctapproach?

[00:20:51] Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. So you have NFTsas skins that are tradeable transferable, and then you have a token, like afungible token. That's like basically play to earn a bit like based on yourearnings, what. Have you learned from like AXI infinity and their token modelin terms of like redesigning yours for fives, because this still is kind of arewards token, still a bit of play to earn, but I guess what, what have youlearned from how they did it and redesigning the way that you're doing it?

[00:21:28] Samee: I think that the, I guess I'll talkabout. Actually first. So I'm actually in general, the, the way their economyworks is that you have to pay money to buy like an AXI. And then when you getone, you can, now when you get three, you can now play the game. When you playthe game, you earn like SLP, which is like to breed more axes and you can breedmore axes and sell them.

And then new people can now buy it to enter the game. Right. Soall of the here, the, the key thing to note here is. Where do the profits ofthis game come from that you're actually paying out to people, the profits ofthis game come from creation and selling of more axes. So that is like kind ofthe, the thing to highlight.

And that that is not sustainable, that the profit of the gameis coming from. Introduction selling to new players who are trying to flip. Ourbusiness model is, again, we're basically just copying like league of legends,like Fortnite, like these type of games they've done pretty well. The Mo theirmodel is basically the skill base.

It's like competitive game sell skins. And so it's a much moresustainable model because you're just, you're like, it's, the game isinherently fun and people are willing to buy skins. What we've done with thetoken aspect is we're just saying. What is what is like the actual, the, theunique feature of crypto, in my opinion, like one of the, the, the best, mostunique features is that players can share or not players, any user of, of atoken can share financial upside in this thing.

Right. And so we are basically just, we are tying the earningsof our token, not to the sale of axes or the sale of this, like in game asset.But actually we're just saying, Hey, we sell skins in the game. We're justreserving a percentage of our skin sales to go back to players. And so it'sactually just a much more direct model of saying like, Hey, this is the gamebusiness model.

We are using the token to basically redistribute this. And soas the game becomes more popular and more people want to buy skins, you canearn some of some of this and be like an owner in the game. Does, does thatmake sense?

[00:23:28] Ben: Yeah, that does. I mean, the thing thatalways jumps into my mind with owner O of is like securities and regulatoryhurdles but nothing is insurmountable.

I think we'll get there eventually, but you know, those thingskind of. Scare me, maybe, perhaps

[00:23:46] Samee: I think one thing. So, one thing we'redoing with regards to that is that if you make this thing, what we actuallywant to reward people to play the game. So we don't want you to actually beable to trade this.

So one thing we're doing is that when you play the game, Youcan it's you're not earning like a fungible token. You're just earning like,points that add up over the course of like, let's say the, the, the gameseason. So one, one month, and then basically the number of points that youhave is like, is how much you can earn.

And so this is actually, this is not security, right? You'rejust earning points and we're, it's kind of like a tournament system where youit's there's no, there's no rules against paying, paying people. Are doing wellin your game. And so all we're doing is all we're saying is, Hey, we have amore efficient payment network.

We don't, we don't have to like, send, like, get your bankinformation and stuff. You've played the game. You've proved. You're engaging.You've earned points by doing and then every season we'll pay out to theseplayers based on their points. If you play the game more, if you win the gamemore, if you rank up more, you get more money.

And then every season you kind of reset. And so the benefit ofthis model generally is like, okay, it's very aligned with like the incentiveof a game. I, we're not just, we're not inten by speculating. We're saying youget more, when you play, you get more, the better you do. And then now you as aplayer also if I'm a good player, I actually want more of my friends to playbecause now the prize pool is basically gonna be bigger if like more, more ofmy friends are playing.

And so this is again, kind of what I was getting at. When youhave a game or when you have anything that, that a user can be an owner of, asopposed to just being like a player, they now have a different mindset wherethey say, okay, I want more people to participate in this ecosystem because Ihave upside when the game does better.

[00:25:22] Ben: That makes sense. We've danced around itquite a bit, but let's talk about fives. Like what inspired you to build thisand ultimately what it is?

[00:25:32] Samee: Yeah, for sure. So the one liner isit's like NBA jam with Fortnite skins. And so I'm just a really big basketballfan. I think that like there, I played a lot of these basketball games growingup and there hasn't really been a good one for a.

So we are making like an arcade basketball game for mobile. Andthen the, the difference is that rather than playing with like different NBAplayers, it's kind of like, you get to choose your avatar and like these are,and like you can customize your guy fully with like dunk animations orcelebrations, or like on court walk on.

So kind of combining those two concepts of like end the NBA jamstyle of like go getting on fire, dunking on people and. You also get to belike, oh, if you wanna be a dragon or you wanna be like a robot, or you wannahave like a 360 crazy dunk or whatever your animation is kind of giving your,you the free, the freedom and ability to customize and express yourself.

So that's kind of like the, the high level of what it is. Supercool. And I, you

[00:26:24] Ben: won't allow skins or PFPs from otherareas in your game, right? Is this a total fluke, like a misunderstanding ofpeople with NFTs thinking that gaming you'll have this little like board aavatar that you can move across all of your games that, well, I, I, I guess isthat a common misconception within blockchain gaming?

[00:26:48] Samee: It's hard to say. So in theory, it canbe done. It's just you have to make, like, there's a difference between like aPFP and like a 3d model in a game that's rigged that actually like works withall the animations. Right. And so there's basically nothing stopping us fromsaying, Hey, let's make a 3d model for your ape.

And then you can like put that into the game. But someone hasto make that. And so we may make that we may not make that I, the, in. I wouldsay, we may, we may not make it, but in the long term, the ideas that we wantto have, like a third party skin marketplace, where anyone can make theirskins. And basically you can, you can basically sell and do stuff there.

So even if we don't make it, someone else could make it later.But, and so I would say like the, the larger question was about likeportability of, of assets and games. That's like a very complex topic. I wouldsay most of the. It's not, not what will not work, but in our specific case, itcould be done much more easily.

[00:27:45] Ben: Yeah. And scalable if you have that skinmarketplace. So you're not building out all of these and kind of the marketdetermines I, you are an experienced dev, but new to building games. Right.

[00:27:59] Samee: I am my co-founders game developer.

[00:28:01] Ben: What's been your biggest learning so farof like welcome to game development that you didn't know before.

[00:28:10] Samee: That's a good question. I think

you have to just, you have to be very, very iterative. I thinkthat it's much less like I would, this is probably just like, I would sayconsumer products in general, it's like very, pretty different from like B2Band that, I think you start out with an initial thesis or theme or concept, andthen you kind of have to just like, be very willing to.

It's it's changed the, a lot of the details along the way,based on like, based on just making some small prototypes, evaluating how youfeel about it. And so the game, like the game concept, it was always, basicallylike a basketball game. We tried a few versions of that. We basically likebuilt those play, tested those, and like, we just continuously made it better.

And like, this is kind of like the more solidified vision aftermany iterations. And like, what I learned is. That's like not a bad thing.That's just how all the best games are made is that you have to just, it startswith some like rough concept and you just have to kind of like keep chiselingaway at it.

Be okay with throwing away a lot of things. That's like theonly way to make games in in fact, once you, once you stop doing that, that'slike when you really get screwed. So that's, I would, that's probably the mainthing. Yeah. And

[00:29:20] Ben: which, it's easier said than done. It'sgood startup principles of like build, measure, learn, and like, be, beembarrassed by your first version.

But you're getting that feedback loop started so you can testthese hypotheses. But I would imagine with something like game development,that takes a time, it takes some time it's tough to like literally throw awaypieces that you're. But, but I kind of like that ,

[00:29:42] Samee: you know, well, that's, that's theother thing is that we've learned how to make smaller prototypes.

Yeah. So that you, your, your feelings are less hurt when youthrow away. Cause so now we're, now we'll just like, when we're, if we'retesting things, we like, all right, let's just put a box here, like the mostraw prototype just to test, like, I think it's just, you, you get better atrunning experiments. Actually another learning, this is probablycounterintuitive to what most people think.

The game development tools now are insanely powerful, likebeing a game developer like 10, 15 years ago is way, way, way harder than it isnow. Like the engines are incredible. We can focus so much more on just what weare doing. And a lot of it is taken care by like we, where our game is an UNengine.

So. It's just shocking how much stuff has been done. Like Ihave no idea how the fuck people were making games in like 1998 or something.

[00:30:29] Ben: Yeah. Well it, a lot more work andprobably bigger teams. you can do more with small teams with these tools nowand, and it rate and learn much more quickly. Yeah.

[00:30:41] Samee: Interesting. It it's much like the Iwould say on-prem to cloud shift where we're like, we're not racking serversanymore. I think the same thing is basically happening to game developmentwhere like the engines are becoming so powerful that I think smaller lessexperienced teams are going to be able to create games.

Much more easily than they did before. Similar to how like,again, like web apps and web, like web two companies blew up once, like AWS andcloud services became available because now it's just like, all right. Yeah.Right. My app deployed to the cloud infinite scale. Great. Let's do it. Yeah.Well, I, with, with

[00:31:13] Ben: something like this, I mean, I'd becurious to know your go to market strategy, cuz B to C mobile game likeobfuscating the blockchain aspect.

So it's still fun to play, but you're, you're marketing towardthe masses with something like this. So very. I would imagine competitive spaceof like mobile free game. So what's, what's kind of the go-to market strategyhere and, and making fives relevant to the, the

[00:31:41] Samee: average person. Yeah, that's a goodquestion.

I think this is one of the reasons why we, basketball is sorelevant actually is because sports gaming in general has been very stagnantand. This is like being able to leverage, which, what is the fastest growingsport in the world. What's like number one in gen Z in us, number one in China,number one in Philippines, number one in like a lot of regions that are on therise of, for mobile gaming.

This like one just being able to leverage an existing passionis a good base to start from. So that's like one already difference betweenmany games where if you're like just making like a generic, like shooter gameor you're making like a generic. I don't know, like catching game or whate likesomething like this.

People basically want there, there's a whole, a passion gapwhere they're like, oh, I really like this sport. There's not really a good wayto represent on mobile. So that's like, I would say higher level theory interms of more tactical what we're doing games now. Be because mobile gaming andgaming in general is very competitive.

It's like you would just have to spend a lot of money on ads.The best way to really get users is influencers. And so for us, we're goingafter three main groups, one is NBA players. One is twist streamers, and one isYouTubers. And what we're doing again, since we have this skin model, we arebasically targeting people who are like related to our theme.

So maybe like basketball YouTubers or, or game streamers or NBAplayers making skins for them in the game and then saying. We'll basically doprofit sharing with you now on these skins. And so it's kind of like how, likeNike would sign a deal with LeBron and say like, okay, yes, you're gonna getlike revenue on, on this thing.

So, but you, you promote the shoes. And so we are basicallyworking with a lot of these like top influencers that are again, have sharedinterest area with us and saying, Hey, we like you are now aligned with us asthe game. So you can and like your fans now will, will basically want to you,you should talk to your fans.

They're gonna want. Have your skin in the game, you're gonnaget upside in that. So having giving the creators upside, and then I think whatI said earlier back to like, as a player, if I'm earning money based on like,if, how the game does well, that's like a little bit more built in virality oflike, I'm an, I'm an owner.

So it's, I want to tell more people and onboard more people. Sothat's kind of my, the, the, those are the three main things. One is like pick,pick an area. People are passionate about basketball, go after influencers,align your incentives with them and then align your incentives with the users. That'sthe general strategy.

Yeah. Good

[00:34:02] Ben: one. And There's just endless puns ofskin in the game with something like this. Right. I mean, it's just endless. Iwould giggle every time I'm saying like that. I think those are goodstrategies. I'd be curious as a founder and CEO what keeps you up late at nightwith designing and launching a game like, like fives.

[00:34:30] Samee: That's a good question. I mean, I thinknumber one right now is just like fast iterations, making sure the game is fun untilwe can talk a lot about strategy and like macro about how these things plug in.But like, again, my view is that crypto is like a multiplier on network effectsof something that's already good.

And. We're just focusing fully on like, making that, making thegame experience. Good. And like, I would say, I mean, I would say that buildingand and talent are like the, the top two things always I'm thinking about. Ithink like, I basically I'm like spend 0% of my attention on like macro cryptomarket. I think the premise of this is like pretty logical.

I'm not really worried about that and go to market again rightnow. I. We have a good plan there. We have some good connects, but right now isnot the time to like be hammering, go to market. So it's just actually buildingthe product right now. Nice

[00:35:26] Ben: building and, and iterating and gettingearly feedback and making sure that it's, it's got all of those aspects areyour plan is to basically centralize sate all of the like blockchain basedaspects and then like sprinkle them in as necessary, but like focus on gameplay and making it, making it great first.

[00:35:47] Samee: Yeah. Basically the, a lot of theblockchain stuff is, is basically completely hidden away. So you have a lot ofit actually is. We're doing These assets, like by default will live off chain.And then basically if you want to like mint it on chain, we will mint it foryou and you pay gas, but this is kind of how we're getting around the likescale issue of how do you do many transactions?

I think that the reality is that most things you don't careabout it being on chain. Cause it's like pretty low value. You would ratherjust have it be free and instant, and then you have like 1% of items here.Like, this is my insanely sick, like skin it's a thousand dollars. So I wannahave this one in my wallet.

Sure. Have hold that one. But like for all of your like $5items, I don't think it's like a good use of anyone's tie. Yeah.

[00:36:34] Ben: No, that totally makes sense. Are, areyou thinking about different blockchains and like pros and cons or is it morelike E polygon? Because that's got the adoption and that's where we want to go.

Or how do, how do you think about that?

[00:36:48] Samee: Yeah, I think we're, we are built on Enot no layer two, just E main net. And again, my rationale is because thestrengths of a blockchain are that you have global liquidity and you have thislike financial network that anyone like you can, you can, you can buy shit withit.

And so the problem with, and it's also, it's this thing is alsodecentralized. No one can take your money away from you. The problem is thatwith basically every layer, two or alt chain, you then lose these one of thesetwo properties. So either you lose liquidity or you lose decentralization. Andso in my opinion, that's, if you lose one of these two things, like you've lostthe whole premise of, of like the blockchain.

And there's a lot of chains that are trying to basically dolike. High throughput, more centralized models for me, that doesn't make and,and, and the objective is let's, let's have very low gas fees for me. Thatdoesn't make sense because you're not, again, you're not doing the thing that ablockchain does.

Well, the thing that a blockchain does well is it's like it'sdecentralized and you have like liquidity of the, of the network. If you wantto have no gas or low gas fees and have like high security and have highthrough. That's call a database. So like let's not, let's not like mix up wherethe technologies are gonna be used.

A databases are not like going to zero. Databases are stillpretty lit. They're they're good technology. So like, let's use that for whatit's good for. And then again, like I view the E L one as like, this is thefinancial sediment and settlement layers. Like when you want to do high valuetransactions, this is where you you're gonna be doing it.

So that's kind of how I view it. And I think a lot of the likelayer twos are. Just like too centralized right now, liquidity is toofragmented. You're just not really getting the benefits of, of actually doingblockchain transactions. You're getting a

[00:38:39] Ben: centralized database that you don'tcontrol anyways.

So you might as well just have that centralized databaseanyways.

[00:38:45] Samee: Right. It's actually, it's slower thana database. More expensive. Yeah. And. Centralized. So it's like what? I don'tunderstand what I'm doing here. Growing

[00:38:53] Ben: pains, growing pains. We'll get thereactually. But these are the, these are the steps. You know, you don't snap yourfingers and it's fast instant cheap and decentralized,

[00:39:01] Samee: but we'll get there.

Yeah, that's a, that's a good point. I think that I coulddefinitely see a world where like, again, we're kind of doing, this is a verybleeding edge concept. I could definitely see a world where in like two, threeyears, there's like a few L two S that have really, really big liquid. They'reactually like more scalable than, than E.

And so maybe then you have, like, you have like a doubleescalation system, right. You can say, okay, actually, most, most of our likeexpensive transactions happen on this L two and then only if you're sellinglike hundred K plus items, then it's happening on, on L one. Just right now, Ijust think that's not the case.

And so, and also E is like low enough traffic where it's like,okay, if you're basically, if you have like more than a few hundred dollarsitem you're doing, you don't really care. Whatever, what is it? 10, 10, $20.It's like, not, not even that much right now. Gas speed. Yeah. Yeah. But

[00:39:46] Ben: still that's 10% of the value, right?

Like you do a couple transactions. I mean, E layer one andlayer two scaling is what will allow the. To scale as a chain and we'll getthere, but it's early days with all this stuff early days with blockchaingaming, early days with the thing that it's built on, which is the blockchain.So of course, like all the other things that are springing up on top also areearly days.

[00:40:13] Samee: Yeah, that's true. Yeah. Yeah. I thinkthis, this is gonna be one of those things. If you watch it in a few years,it's gonna be like, oh, that, that seems dumb. But in the moment, I think it'sstill the best strategy for basically the bridging period. Oh

[00:40:25] Ben: yeah. It was, yeah. Well, I mean, bridgeis alone, right?

It's like my, my buddy like just looked at them and he waslike, no, never using them. Don't use them. like, it's like, that's kind oflike the only way to do it. He's like, don't care. Nope. Not touching him. Andthis was like pre the Ronan hack and all of this. And I, I, I just like keepsending him articles.

He's like, it's the. There's gonna be way more. It's kind of, Imean, it happens. It is what it is. Well, sawmy, I, I really appreciated thisconversation again, like super early for my listeners, but, but love digginginto this stuff and kind of start thinking about where it could go for mylisteners.

Where, where can they find out more about you, about fives?Where would you like to send.

[00:41:10] Samee: I'm on Twitter. So at some the great Sa M E the great, and then our site is, is really, really cool. We have a greattrailer. I would highly recommend anyone. Who's. Who's interested all with whatI've said. Go check out our site and trailer project five.

[00:41:24] Ben: Awesome. Well, appreciate it, brother.And I'll,

[00:41:26] Samee: I'll see you in New York. Yes. See yousoon. Brad, there you go.

[00:41:31] Ben: First off. Thank you very much forlistening all the way through. I hope you got a lot of value out of thatconversation as always. You can find show notes, links, [email protected].

Please share this with anyone you think might be interested andderiv any value from this conversation. And as always, you can reach out to mefor any feedback or questions. Please give the video a like, or even bettersubscribe on YouTube or your podcast player of choice. This really helps othersfind the podcast or the video as well.

Thanks a lot. Hope everybody has a fantastic day and stay safeout there and invest wisely. Cheer.

Ben Lakoff is an entrepreneur and finance professional. He has developed strong global finance experience through 10 years of international assignments in the US, Brazil, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Czech Republic and through the award of his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.